Not the “Acche Din” We Asked For: Fuel Price Hike and BJP’s Deafening Silence On It
“Massive hike in Petrol prices is a prime example of the failure of the Congress-led UPA”, Narendra Modi’s tweet from 2012 ironically holds true today, except that now the BJP is at the Centre as automobile fuel prices reach record highs across the country.
Petrol and Diesel prices in India have increased for the 8th consecutive day, priced at Rs 89.29/litre and Rs 79.70/litre respectively in the capital. Premium petrol has crossed the Rs 100 mark in several cities of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and is very close to the levels in Maharashtra.
Just 6–7 years ago during the UPA regime, an increase in petrol prices (at Rs 70/litre) used to be an issue of huge uproar by the people, media, and opposition, which then was the BJP. It was also one of the reasons the UPA was voted out of power amid BJP’s incessant campaign against fuel prices.
Now, however, despite fuel rates steadily creeping towards the Rs 100 mark, the Government’s attitude seems indifferent.
While the hike does stem from a global spike in both product and crude oil prices, the increase in India’s retail price of fuel is majorly because of the increase in central taxes on it, which the Government does have room to cut by almost 2/3rds.
However, this rationalization in taxes is unlikely as the Centre looks to strengthen its revenue position after the COVID-19 crisis. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has also ruled out any cuts in the excise duty of petroleum products.
Whether or not this hike is representative of the Centre’s ‘failure’ is subjective, nonetheless, the Government’s silence and inaction on an issue that affects the entire country and most importantly the middle-class, is deafening.
Is it because the BJP has taken its vote bank for granted? Probably. Primarily associating itself with ‘nationalist issues’ and ‘cultural development’, the party seems to have forgotten about necessary issues that directly affect the common people of the country.
A hike in petrol prices translates into unaffordable transportation that disrupts the supply chain, which then also leads to an increase in prices of essential goods and commodities, including fruits and vegetables. If the high prices last for long it can also have an inflationary effect.
With global crude prices crossing the $60-mark, it is highly possible that fuel prices will further increase across the world. This is a cause of increasing worry especially for countries like India where the prices are already high.
When the Centre is charging higher taxes, it needs to ensure that disbursement is done efficiently. An issue as crucial as the hiking of petrol prices deserves the Government’s action and attention. If something can make you come to power, it can also make you lose it.